ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The "Rays Way" was on full display in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. Although if the Rays have it their way, they would prefer to win a little more easily next time.
Tampa Bay outlasted the Houston Astros 2-1 in Game 1, a low-scoring affair in stark contrast to the Rays' Division Series win over the Yankees.
Blake Snell ran into trouble out of the gate, giving up a home run to Jose Altuve with one out in the first. But he battled without his best stuff, giving up no more runs through five innings of work.
The Rays scratched out two runs on a Randy Arozarena home run in the fourth and an RBI single by Mike Zunino in the fifth. That turned out to be all the offense they needed.
This game wasn't so much about strong pitching as it was about wasted chances. The Astros left 10 runners on base while the Rays left nine. Both teams missed key scoring opportunities that could have turned the tides in the eighth.
In the top half, Houston loaded the bases against Aaron Loup. Rays manager Kevin Cash turned things over to hard-throwing righty Diego Castillo. The move paid off, as Yuli Gurriel grounded Castillo's first pitch into an inning-ending double play. The Rays could have put the game away in the bottom of the eighth, but Kevin Kiermaier popped up with two runners on.
As the Rays look forward to Game 2, they'll be focused on capitalizing when they put runners on base. They hit just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in Game 1. They struggled with that in the regular season as well, their .244 average ranking 23rd in the league.
Tampa Bay is also looking for a strong start from veteran Charlie Morton. He's 3-0 in postseason starts since joining the Rays last year. It will be a matchup of familiar faces -- Morton won the 2017 World Series with the Astros, while Houston Game 2 starter Lance McCullers, Jr. grew up in Tampa and starred at Jesuit High School.
Game 2 starts at 4:07 p.m. from Petco Park in San Diego, where the Rays and the Astros are staying in the MLB bubble.
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